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Blackthorn

  • Prunus spinosa L.
  • Rosaceae
  • Rose family



Common Names

herbsPlum
herbsSloe
herbsSloe plum
herbsWild plum


Parts Usually Used

Flowers, fruit, bark of the root


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Blackthorn is a Eurasian tree or shrub, 10-15 feet high; the branches are very thorny and are covered with velvety hair when young. The small, alternate leaves are usually obtuse and range from obovate to ovate in shape. They are closely serrate and somewhat hairy on the veins beneath. In March and April, the small, white flowers grow profusely alone or in pairs along the branches. The harsh, astringent fruit is round, blue to black, and about 1/2 inch in diameter. It ripens in October.

Other varieties of plum: Common plum (P. domestica); Wild plum (P. americana)


Where Found

Commonly cultivated for ornamental purposes, grows wild in clearings, among hedges, and along the edges of woods, sunny mountain slopes, on heaths, and in pastures, provided enough lime is present in the soil.


Medicinal Properties

Aperient, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, stomachic


Uses

A tea from the flowers is a harmless and reliable purgative and has beneficial effects on the stomach and stimulates appetite. Recommended for mild bladder problems, skin problems, catarrh, stomach cramps, dropsy, and stone formation. Juice of the berries used for inflammations in the mouth and throat. A jam made of the fruit is a palatable laxative safe especially for children. A decoction of the root bark reduces fever.

Also, used to flavor liqueurs and cordials.


Formulas or Dosages

The fruit is more palatable if gathered after going through 2 or 3 nights of frost.

Infusion: steep 2 tsp. flowers (may include leaves also) in 1/2 cup water. Take 1/2 cup in the morning, 1/2 cup in the evening, freshly made each time. Sweeten with honey if desired.

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